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The psychology of interviewing

  1. 1.Tell yourself how you’re going to perform at interview…


Verbal self-guidance works (Latham & Budworth, 2006). Say to yourself “I will enter the room in a confident manner", "I will smile and firmly shake the interviewers’ hands", "I will remain calm and confident, even if I am faced with a difficult question".

  1. 2.Visualise your pupillage interview going well…


In one study half of the participants were instructed to visualise themselves feeling confident and relaxed at an upcoming job interview, to good effect (Knudstrup, Segrest, & Hurley, 2003).

  1. 3.Keep it positive…


One study looked at 116 students just out of college trying to get their first job (Higgins & Judge, 2004). The students who did best at interview were the most ingratiating; they praised the organisation, showed enthusiasm, discussed common interests, smiled and maintained eye contact.

  1. 4.However, don’t overdo it – keep it natural…


Try to avoid too much fake smiling. False smiling during an interview results in less favourable evaluations than genuine smiling (Woodzicka, 2008).

  1. 5.Communicate clearly…


One study found that interviewees who overused the word ‘like’ and included too many fillers were considered less professional and consequently less likely to be hired (Russell et al., 2008).

  1. 6.Stand out from the crowd, in a good way…


One recent study has found that interviewees who answer standard questions in novel ways are at an advantage (Roulin et al., 2011). Across different job types, ages and levels of education, the researchers discovered that interviewer's ratings were higher for those who gave novel answers.

  1. 7.A firm handshake…


Stewart et al. (2008) found that a good quality handshake affected hiring recommendations. In this study the importance of a firm shake was greater for women.

  1. 8.Create a good first impression - it is key to the decision-making process…


You have a maximum of 30 seconds in which to create a first impression (Ambady & Rosenthal, 1993). Other theorists would suggest you have only 4! (Hogan & Stubbs, 2003)

Neuroscientific research suggests that the orbitofrontal cortex connects visceral emotions to decision-making. In ‘The Decisive Moment’, Jonah Lehrer states: ‘When a person is drawn to a certain entrée on the menu, or a particular romantic prospect, the mind is trying to tell him that he should choose that option. It has already assessed the alternatives – this analysis takes place outside of conscious awareness – and converted that assessment into a positive emotion.’

Pupillage applicants who create a good first impression, who are likeable and trigger positive emotions in the members of the interview panel, are at a significant advantage in terms of being offered pupillage.

  1. 9.Once you’ve made a good first impression, create a rapport…


Mehrabian’s (1972; 1981) research is often misrepresented as suggesting that effective communication comprises:

• 7% words – what you have to say

• 38% tone of speech, tempo, volume and style of expression

  1. 55% behavioural – this includes how you dress, how you carry yourself and your general demeanour

In truth, his studies concerned very specific circumstances outside of mainstream human communication, as succinctly explained by Pamela Thorne.

Nevertheless, non-verbal behaviour has consistently been found to play a key role in effective communication, particularly in a formal interview situation (eg Gifford, Fan Ng & Wilkinson, 1985).

Therefore, pay particular attention to the way in which you present yourself and the information you provide to the interview panel.

  1. 10.Get a coach…


Research suggests coaching can significantly improve interview performance (Macan, 2009).


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For information on pupillage interview coaching, please contact Julian McCombe on:

07971 119 390

or by email at:

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